SHARJAH: Paceman James Anderson led Englandís efforts to level the series against Pakistan with four wickets on the opening day of the third and final Test in Sharjah yesterday. After losing the second Test in Dubai, England were kept in the hunt by Anderson who took 4-17 to dismiss Pakistan for a paltry 234 on a relaid Sharjah stadium pitch. At the close, England openers Alastair Cook (nought) and Moeen Ali (four) had survived two overs to finish on four without loss as England trail by 230 runs. Andersonís new-ball partner Stuart Broad kept the pressure on from the other end, bowling eight of his 13 overs maiden and finishing with 2-13.
Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, were indebted to skipper Misbah-ul-Haq who was ninth out after scoring a fighting 71 for his 32nd half-century. Misbah added a fighting 80 for the sixth wicket with Sarfraz Ahmed (39) but all the other batsmen, including Younis Khan (31), Shoaib Malik (38) and Mohammad Hafeez (27), failed to capitalise on good starts. England took the second new ball with the score on 222-7 with Anderson dismissing Misbah caught in the slips before wrapping up the innings with the wicket of Rahat Ali for four.
Misbah hit seven fours and two sixes during his 160-ball knock but could not stop the slide as Pakistan lost their last five wickets for just 38 runs. Younis, who made a brilliant hundred in the second Test in Dubai, looked in good shape before falling leg-before as he missed an incoming full toss from Anderson and unsuccessfully challenged umpireís decision. Younis, who survived a confident caught-behind appeal off Broad on 21, became Andersonís 422nd wicket in his 110th Test. Anderson is now eighth on the all-time leading Test wicket takers, leaving South African paceman Shaun Pollock (421 wickets) behind. Broad put pressure on the Pakistan batting, getting Malik caught behind, while Asad Shafiq was dismissed for just five by Samit Patel who finished with 2-85.
Spinner Ali took 2-49. Broad said bowlers did a good job to put England on a strong footing. ìI think itís actually quite a good wicket to bowl dot balls if you hold your length and the mindset was very much to put pressure on Pakistan,î said Broad. Pakistan had mixed fortunes in the first session. Pakistan lost opener Ali, who missed the first Test with a foot injury and the second due to the death of his motherin- law, in the third over when he edged Anderson to Bairstow without scoring. Mohammad Hafeez swept Aliís first delivery to the boundary but miscued a pull shot and was caught in the deep by Broad for 27. England lost Ben Stokes in the last session when he hurt his hand as he fell down on his arm while trying to take a catch at short fine leg.
He walked off the field and will be taken to the hospital for X-ray. Pakistan made two changes from the side which won the second Test in Dubai for a 1-0 lead, bringing in Ali and paceman Rahat Ali for Shan Masood and injured Imran Khan. England were also forced to make two changes, resting seamer Mark Wood (ankle problem) and dropping out of form Jost Butler to include James Taylor and Patelóboth playing their first Test since 2012. — AFP